BY ABHISHEK RANA & SUBIN BASTOLA
Head Coach Don Nally describes his team as a “battle tested” one, and that is due to them having been together for long and a lot of their starters returning from last season. One of these starters includes senior captain Nathaniel Ilebode, who has been on the varsity team since his freshman year. As a 6’4” power forward, Ilebode is one of the team's most influential player.
Having played basketball ever since he was four years old, Ilebode has been passionate about the game ever since. When asked about what inspired him to play basketball he credited his “friends and watching professional basketball” as what “motivates [him] to be better.”
Ilebode has been team captain since last season alongside senior guard Bernard Taylor. Ilebode mentioned that being team captain means that he has to show “a lot of leadership” and make sure “[his teammates] know their responsibility” and are on top of things “in order to achieve [their] main goal, which is winning.”
Newcomer to the team this season, junior Malik Bissett praised his captain. He mentioned that that Ilebode is a key player in the team as “he knows how to grab rebounds” and has a “very good overall fundamentals.” Bissett also added that “[Ilebode’s] mid range game is one to watch out for” and that he also has “great control when driving to the rim.”
Being new to the team, Bissett also mentioned how welcoming Ilebode has been to him. He stated that “the two of them have gotten closer day by day.” Bissett also mentioned how “[he] looks up to him” and “asks him for help on what [he] needs to do better.”
Starting out the season 4-2, Ilebode stated that he thinks the season has gone “pretty smooth” and that “[they] have been playing really well.” When asked what he thinks is the most important factor to the team continuing their success, he pointed to the team’s chemistry as the most important aspect. “Knowing how well [the] team works together and chemistry among players is a big factor,” he elaborated.
After graduating this year, Ilebode hopes and plans to play basketball at the collegiate level, however is undecided as to where. He mentioned that once he graduates, “[he] will miss the bus rides the most” as well as “that feeling after a big win.” When asked what his favorite moment as a player for Malden High was, Ilebode went back to his freshman year against Beverly when “[he] made the game winning layup.”
Outside of basketball, Ilebode enjoys taking pictures and producing videos as well as anything else related to media. When asked about the benefits and challenges of being a student athlete, he mentioned that “it has opened a lot of doors for [him] at the high school as well as in life.” He also added that “it is sometimes difficult to manage time,” but also that he has made a commitment and that he wants to honor that commitment as “[he] made the decision to do it.”